I spent the evening at my mom’s. A weekly thing that’s been going on for the better part of a year. I felt distracted the entire night, wanting to look at my phone, text him, continue the conversation we’d started. At the same time, I was more than a little terrified of continuing it. There was already a spark of connection. More than a spark honestly. What was happening here? Was I actually ready for anything to be happening here?
I half-watched a movie with my mom, wrestled with their temperamental washing machine, picked at dinner, and mentally paced circles around the house.
He sent two songs.
They sat in my messages unopened. I was still at my mom’s. I didn’t want to listen to them there. No, I wanted to lay on the floor of my living room with headphones and listen to them, the way I did when I was a teenager and would lay on my bedroom floor listening to albums. I wanted to take in the songs that way. Or, if not that, I wanted to drive around listening while the street lamps and light pollution lit up the night, casting shadows on the pavement, turning two songs into a cinematic soundtrack.
Eventually, I left. I got my second wish and drove around listening. I hit repeat a few times. I took the long way home, taking unnecessary turns and returns. I felt an aura of possibility wrap itself around me. I wanted to embrace it. I wanted to believe in it. I wanted it to be real.
But, I was terrified.
I lay awake for the better part of the night thinking about him. This was crazy really. We’d only started talking. We’d only started a conversation and traded some songs. We hardly knew each other. But…
There was something there. Something intangible and impossible to articulate fully. Something that was mostly feeling, instinct, and recognition.
I thought back on those nights on my bedroom floor. Stacks of records leaned up against oversized stereo speakers. The one “now playing” in front of me. Inner sleeve out. Lyrics and liner notes. The music would start to play, filling my light blue walls, and take me into the sounds. Me at 15 wishing that someone out there existed who would want to lie next to me and listen to music, letting it overtake us then, one of us reaching for the others hand, kissing in-between chord changes and lyrical refrains.
Why did it feel like this was the person I’d wished for back then?
And if it was. If this was him. Well, wasn’t the timing just awful? I was still hurt and overly-vulnerable from the break-up. My insecurities had been turned up way past high and I wasn’t sure I could trust anyone yet. I was scared I wasn’t going to be able to trust love again. Or ever.
I felt the fear coil around me, constricting like a snake around my stomach, my chest, my throat until I couldn’t breathe. What if what if what if what if what if what if what if. The calliope-creepy-chorus chimed in, over and over again. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to sleep.
What if what if what if what if what if what if what if.
“Take Care” by Yo La Tengo
“Take care not to hurt yourself.
Beware of the need for help.
You might need too much.
When people are such.
Wasn’t I supposed to be taking care of my heart, and not risking it?
I never slept that night. Me and my fear had a goddamn sleepover, with no sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. I couldn’t stop feeling scared to be thinking of him.